More than 5 million children not getting their school meals

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More than five million children aren't getting meals at school.
More than five million children aren't getting meals at school.
Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images
  • In July, the Basic Education Department was ordered to resume its feeding scheme despite schools being closed during the hard lockdown.
  • Since the high court's order, many children still aren't getting their meals for a variety of reasons.
  • The department said it had fed over 4 million pupils before the end of August.

Not even half of all school children who qualify to benefit from the national school nutrition programme are receiving meals, according to a Department of Basic Education (DBE) briefing to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee.

This was revealed last Tuesday, when the the state of reopening schools, updates on the national school nutrition programme, and draft directions for learners with special education needs were discussed online, reports GroundUp.

READ | Limpopo pupils aren't getting school meals because transport to get there is too costly

More than 19 000 schools depend on the feeding programme.

As of 26 August, the DBE said it is feeding 4.4 million learners out of the 9.7 million qualifying learners.

Portfolio Committee secretary the ANC's Llewellyn Brown relayed that although "the number is quite low for the programme" the department expects that more learners will benefit from the feeding scheme when they return to school and the programme is fully implemented.

ALSO READ | MAC advised pupils' return to school 'as soon as possible' 2 months before closure

In an effort to increase the number of learners receiving meals, provincial education departments have initiated three delivery models to feed learners regardless of whether they attend school or not.

These include serving cooked meals at school, identifying a central location for learners to collect meals, and arranging for the delivery and collection of food parcels.

In its online presentation, the DBE attributed the low number of learners collecting meals to the lack of transport available for the learners who live far from their school. It said a large amount of food was wasted because learners did not arrive at school to collect their meals.

Fear surrounding Covid-19 meant many parents had not sent their children to school, reducing the number of learners who collected meals at schools, said Brown.

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